4">Constructions, Styles, Materials in Identifying Fitting Characteristics

Full Size Short --------------- Some Nike and other gym shoes.

1/2 Size Short ---------------- Most Gym shoes from China, some Chinese and oriental imports.

True ---------------------------- All Unit Bottoms (molded one piece soles and heels), most crepe       soles, cement constructions, Drew Barefoot Freedom 48 last - (Oblique Toe In-Depths), and Drew 46 last - oval toe - P W Minor's Mens oblique toes. All Soft Spots, Clinics, Nurse Mates, Foot Thrills, SAS, Easy Spirit, Bass, etc.

1/2 Size Long ---------------- Taper Toe Women's Dress Shoes, Taper toe Cements from the        60's and before, All sewn Goodyear Welt shoes (welt sewn to upper, sole sewn to welt, All Orthopaedic shoes from all other companies. Children's shoes like Willits, Walkin, Kreider.  All   P W Minor, most Drew like P381, 28, 20, Foot Savers, Barefoot Freedom, Some Women's Clinic 411) and Hush Puppies Dress shoes.

Full Size Long -------------- All 71 last Drew (Millers) goodyear welt leather sole shoes. - Also the Drew 16 last,  


Child     Men's       Women's    
      AA S     AAAA S SS
A     A       AAA    
B N   B N N   AA N N
C     C       A    
D M   D M M   B M M
E     E       C    
EE W   EE W W   D W W
EEE     EEE W W   E    
      EEEEE XW 4W   EEE    

Different Size Feet

Usually you will fit the longest foot if there is only a half size difference. If there is a full size difference, you will normally fit the larger foot down a half size. This will give a half size of toe room on the larger foot and a size and a half toe room on the smaller foot. If you know your length, you can use our fitting guides or our personal attention to help you choose the right shoe size. Remember foot size and shoe size may have no direct relationship.

Feet may also have width differences or length and width differences. This is often a delicate balancing act. Sizes are like a diamond or interlinking diamonds. There are two lengths at two ends and two widths at the other two ends. There are four combinations available. Two will work but will be poor in comparison to the other two. The last two are very close in fit and either may work but one may be the better.

If there is a length and width difference, you may want to fit the longer length and narrower width to balance both feet.


Some customers require mismates. A size and a half difference is the most you can fudge fit and get any kind of comfort. If there is a drastic width difference also, then a full size or less difference may force you to mismate. Mismates can be done in two ways. One is to pay for one pair and 60% of the second pair. This allows you to choose any shoe pattern made. However, even with the discount, this can be expensive. We charge for one pair and the cost of the other. It cuts the cost some and allows us to cover our costs in the second pair.

Another way is by having P W Minor make mis-mates custom for you. It is the cost of one pair of shoes plus a factory charge of $45. It is important we get size and width correct the first time as there are no exchanges allowed on custom made shoes. These orders must be submitted in writing to the factory, they will not take phone orders. It will take about six to 10 weeks for the shoes to be made and shipped to us.

Arch Supports - Orthotics or Orthosis

Nothing causes more problems and mis-conceptions than arch supports. There are hundreds of variations in the materials, methods and types of arch supports. Generally they fall into three categories. Molded leather or layered synthetic materials, rigid plastic laminated or fiberglass reinforced, and thermoplastics. These all take up different amounts of space and may require various types of shoes and fitting techniques to accommodate.

Again we begin with fit.  So measure both feet while standing with the orthotics under your feet on the standard Brannock measuring device.  This will measure your true foot length with the orthotics being worn.  As a general rule, if you are going to a in-depth shoe, you may stay the same width with the insole that comes with the shoe taken out.  If a very thin orthotic, you may stay the same width in regular shoes.  If you have a thicker orthotic, you may have to adjust length by the foot on orthotic measurement and adjust width a width wider for the volume of the orthotic being added to the foot. 

Several things are taking place at the same time. An artificial arch may pull your foot up and therefore make it shorter. Because they come up behind the heel they may make the foot longer by the thickness of the material used. These two things changes may balance each other out to the point that there is no change at all.

Normally, an arch support requires a tie shoe. Not just a floppy, no support tie either. If you pronate (roll in at the ankles and arch collapses) enough to need arch supports, a flimsy shoe will not help. If the shoe bends in the arch and you have a softer, flexible arch support; the shoe and the arch support will bend together and your foot will continue to break down. If there is no heel counter system to hold you over the support and maintain your foot in the proper position over the support; you may just roll over the support right out through the side of the shoe.  So poor shoes that helped create your foot problems will not support you even with an arch support.  A tie shoe, tie shoe or your favorite supportive tie shoe only will work with arch supports.

When you have a support, you have to add the volume of the support to the volume of the foot and both have to go into the shoe. That means that you will normally need a deeper shoe for most supports. Some of the real bulky and thick (usually white thermoplastics or layered pink, white or blue thermoplastics) will require oblique toe in-depth ties, very wide shank ties and possible size adjustments to compensate for the mass of the arch support.  All arch supports will provide you with a platform under your foot and this platform will try to lift you out of the shoe.  So shallow shoes will not work even in tie shoes.  Shoes should be deeper to accommodate these orthotics.  Good walking shoes, oxfords, any of the orthopaedic shoes.  Gym shoes often are too flexible in the arch and heel counter to work well.  There are a few exceptions, but generally most gym shoes do not work.  Gym shoes from Drew-Barefoot Freedom, a few Etonics or New Balance in the 1000 series and above will work due to better construction components.


Another by-product of arch supports are a looser heel fit. You are lifted out of the shoe by the thickness of the arch support. Then because the arch support comes up behind the heel, it creates an air space between your foot and the shoe. These two things make your heel fit looser with orthotics.  Also the reason that dress shoes and arch supports do not normally mix. Many patients can get by with a strap dress shoe for temporary wear without the arch support or may even use a thin arch support in a strap dress shoe. Some may be able to wear pumps without an arch support for limited wear.  You know, the house to the car, into the restaurant, theatre, church or event, kick off the shoes, then wear back to the car and home. However, dress shoes will not work for doing the mall, sight seeing, working on your feet all day etc..   Fashion a P W Minor dress shoe in an in-depth construction may help some women wear an orthotic with a dress shoe appearance. Some women are wearing the thinner nyloplex, laminate and leather arch supports in some of the Clinic strap dress shoes like Rena for temporary wear. However, for the best fit, support and long term comfort; it will be tie, tie oxford or your favorite in-depth tie oxford.  

If you experience heel problems, putting a partial insole in the toes of the shoes back under the feathering of the end of the arch support usually helps.  If the shoe seems to fit in length and width, use a tongue pad.  Place in under the vamp of the shoe.  This will push you back into the heel tighter.  Softening the heel counters of the shoes can also help.  Another solution is to buy shoes with padded collars that come up higher on the foot and fill with air to make better contact through the orthotic heel gap.   If you tie the shoes tighter, the problem is often solved.  Going to a deeper shoe, using the hidden eyelet in in-depth shoes or choosing shoes where the last eyelet is higher and closer to the heel to tighten the opening, are other solutions.  In some cases, going a width narrower in the shoe may be the answer. Placing the tongue pad under the vamp is often the best solution.  It is a trial and error type of thing.  No matter what you do, the heel fit will be worse with an orthotic.  Unfortunately, this is almost a universal truth.  


We begin by measuring both feet while standing on the orthotics.  Generally, an orthotic will add one to two widths to your normal width, unless you are in an oblique toe or other in-depth shoe.  If your orthotic is only 3/4 length, you may need to go to a small innersole in the front to give you a balanced even fit with the orthotic through the entire shoe. If you only have an orthotic on one foot, you will need an innersole in the other shoe to balance the two feet.

The in-depths come with  inner-soles that come out to make room to put your orthotics. These shoes are a 1/4 inch deeper than conventional shoes to fit orthotics. The heel lock in the heel counter is higher to give you a better heel fit with an orthotic. Padded collars and other things are also in the shoes to maximize your fit, comfort and correction with your orthotic.


Arthritis, Old Polio, Birth Defects and other problems can cause deformities. The factories can not accommodate these problems. They do not know where to put in the attic, side room or bump for deformities. If we know about them, we can pre-stretch for some problems, or your local shoe repair can stretch them for you for a small fee. A tool called a ball stretch can be used to pocket for enlarged joints, bunions, hammer toes and other problems.

You have two choices.  If you are elderly and do not do a lot of walking, you may want to use the elastic top shoes that will give with deformities.  You may fit yourself slightly wider if you use a wheel chair or walk very little.  For the young to energetic oldster, going wide or going soft may not be good in the short or long run.  Bunions often are caused by friction, pronation, fallen arches and other problems.  Going soft or wide will just irritate things worse and allow the deformity to get larger next year.  For these customers, getting the right supportive fit in length and width, then stretching for the bunion or hammer toe is better for total foot health. 

Oblique toe in depths can give you more toe room and still support your arch and heel.  Very round and deeper toe box shoes may solve minor problems.  The stretchable upper shoes are the best for severe bunions, hammer toes and the like. See Barefoot Freedom and P W Minor. For even more height, the innersole that comes with the shoe can be removed or at least the front of the innersole removed to give you even more height.

Normally, if the shoe is fitted correctly, a tool called a ball stretch can be used to modify the leather over any enlarged joint area.  This can be done at any shoe repair shop for very little money.  Just going larger and mis-fitting the entire foot to accommodate an enlarged joint will normally only make the problem worse.

Every shoe you wear over time will gain a pocket for the bunion or hammer toe.  Usually even the linings will wear out in these areas from normal walking friction.  Since the manufacturer did not know where to place a pocket there is none.  Your problem is that your joint is looking for that old worn in pocket, so expect new shoes to be tight where the joint enlargement meets the leather until they mold in.  If painful, have the shoe repair start a pocket at the place of discomfort for you.  There is no reason to suffer.  Changing shoes to in-depth or stretchable upper shoes may make sense.  However, staying in the same construction and changing brands will not solve the problem.  The joint is the problem and similar shoes will all echo the same comfort problem with the joint.

Deerskin leathers are also good, because they stretch in two directions instead of only one as in calf and other leathers. e-mail me your problems and I will try to help you pick the best shoe for your problems and needs.

Dress Shoes

Ties always fit the best, then straps, followed by loafers, then flats and pumps. Ties give you round toes, a daily adjustable instep and more support and comfort. As the shoes become more open there is less hold in the shoe. As a result, as the shoe becomes more open, the toe space, toe box height lessen and the small area of contact in the instep becomes tighter. This is also true as the heel height increases, as something has to compensate for the natural tendency of gravity to make you slide down the hill.  

Dress shoes like pumps, heels, loafers and flats all have to be tight in the instep when new.  Not tight in the toes or short, just tight in the instep.  The reason for this is that as the shoe stretches with wear, there is no way to tighten back up the shoe.  So it has to be tighter in the instep when new, so that as it stretches, it will not get so loose that it falls off, allows the foot to float around or to irritate the foot.  If a dress shoe is loose in the heel, you may have to go to a strap style, go down one width or go a half size shorter.  If a strap shoe is loose in the heel, you may have to add another hole or two to the strap.  Often the holes in strap shoes are put in to look good on display, but do not tighten enough to actually hold the heel tight.  This is especially true if there is an elastic on the buckle.  The elastic can stretch or give enough to make the hole used in the strap too loose.  Answer is to put in more holes and tighten the strap.

Women want the toe room and snug but soft fit of ties, but want high heel, open shoes. Unfortunately, it is not going to happen.  Many women do not belong in heels or slip on shoes.  Strap shoes may offer a viable alternative.  You can always adjust straps to give you a tighter heel fit.  As the heels get higher and the shoes get more open, there will be more pressure on the instep. You are asking a half inch of leather in that area to hold you in the heel for the life of the shoe. All slip on shoes and strap dress shoes stretch. As they stretch they tend to get loose. Finally they get sloppy. It has been so in ever dress shoe, loafer and flat you have ever bought. Therefore the instep in new dress shoes and slip-on's must be snug- very snug. As you wear it, it will stretch, but still hold you in the heel of the shoe.

It takes five to six weeks to make a quality shoe. That time is lasting time. Shrinking the leather around the last. As a result, it takes a cork screw type of tool to pull the last out of the finished shoes. The edges of the shoes all curl in towards the last. If the toe room is good, and the length is correct but the heel counter or instep are uncomfortable, do not go bigger. You can ease the heel counter by having us or your shoe repair roll the top edge on the heel on a shoe roller to take out the inward curl. This tool can also be used on the instep to ease the curl there also. As the shoe softens, the edge feel will disappear and the shoe will continue to fit over the life of the shoe. If you go bigger, you will usually find the shoe is a little loose and within a week or two the heel will slip and slide.

Dress shoes are not tie oxfords and will never fit like tie oxfords. If the toes are real tight and the heel is also tight, you may have to go one width wider. Taper toe shoes are not as wide as tie shoes in the same width due to the difference in toe shape. Many dress shoes are made on last that were used back in the 40's and 50's. They run a half size long. Some new dress shoes may run true, so watch the fitting guides.

Loafers and flats are often fitted the same as ties, but some have to fit them one width narrower than ties. If they do not, they find that the shoes get too loose over time. The more open the shoe, the snugger the instep has to be. If you do not like a snug instep, then go to straps which are a little fuller in the instep, as the straps are there to hold on the shoes. Need more space, stay with ties.

Difference in Width - Natural or Due To Orthotic or Brace

Many clients have a difference in foot size or width.  Others have a brace or large orthotic on only one foot.  If it is just a problem of width, two cork gum insoles glued together and cut to fill the bottom of the smaller foot  will take up one width.  If you need to take up two widths, four cork gum insoles, with two skived (tapered) about two inches forward of the heel (heel part removed on two) will take up two widths in the forefoot and allow the heel to drop into the heel cup enough to keep a decent heel fit.  With one orthotic or a brace on only one foot, Use an in-depth shoe from Barefoot Freedom or P W Minor.  

Braces change everything.  First you need to measure the good foot and the brace foot while in the brace on the standard Brannock measuring device.  There will normally be a full size to size and half difference due to the thickness of the brace material and the air space created by the brace.  Normally the foot is behind the end of the brace, so fit the brace with no grow room and just wide enough to place the brace in the shoe.  Take the insole from the factory out of the brace shoe and cut off the arch tab.  Then place this insole upside down and under the insole in the good foot to take up more room.  This is normally the answer to a brace in one shoe.  Oblique toe in-depth shoes work best.  Since you will be over using the good foot, poor shoes without support will normally contribute to break down the good foot within two years from the beginning of the use of a brace or prosthetic leg. The key is to fit the brace foot as close as possible so that the good foot does not swim in the shoe.  Stretching the shoe in the instep area, even cutting the tongue deeper into the vamp is better than fitting the good foot too loose.  In extreme cases, mis-mate shoes may be needed to fit the brace and protect the good foot.  Of course, the less you have to add or change the better.  So in one insole does the trick or you need to add a cork gum insole instead of a thick insole, so much the better.  The main thing is to balance the feet as close as possible for best results.  You want both feet to feel as normal, even with the differences, as you can.